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Podcast Transcript

Episode 92, Season 1

GBA on tour at the FPA Congress 2019 with Judith Beck


Fraser Jack: 00:09 Welcome to the goals based advice podcast, where I have conversations with pioneers of the new world of financial advice. I’m your host Fraser Jack, and I want to thank you for tuning in. We are currently in the kombi van on tour at the FBA Congress, and I’ve managed to spot Judith Beck who’s walked past, and I wanted to talk to her, so I dragged her into the back of the kombi van, and we’re going to have a chat about Few Good Men. Thanks for coming.

Judith Beck: 00:33 Thank you for having me. Few Good Men. Well, we just had the Few Good Men at the Women In Wealth breakfast this morning, and they were recognized for their contributions. So, we started Few Good Men, we’re going into our second year now with Few Good Men, and we now have 60 executive level men from the industry, who are acting as advocates to women in the industry moving up in their career. So, it’s been fantastic.

Fraser Jack: 00:58 So, this is an initiative that was set up a while ago, and it’s a global initiative to say, how do we get men in CEO positions and on boards to support this initiative. Not just about women supporting women, but the men that are involved to say, “No, no. We want to have more women on boards and in leadership positions.” Am I right there?

Judith Beck: 01:19 Well, Few was developed in recognizing that women didn’t have enough advocates in their corner. So, when someone comes on as a member, they’re paired with an advocate who’s more senior than they are, but outside their current organization. And in turn they become an advocate to someone who’s more junior than they are, outside their organization. So, the concept is give and get.

And I’m making it an industry initiative, so that everybody is responsible to be helping, and lifting, and providing guidance and support, because it’s very difficult to give really good critique or feedback to people that work directly for you. Because nobody knows what they can say, and what they can’t say anymore. So, if you have an advocate who’s not in your organization, then you get that fresh eye approach. You get somebody who go, “Well, I know exactly what you’re going through and I would do it like this, or maybe you should have approached it this way, rather than the constraints that we have on what we can or can’t say within the organization.”

Some of the best advice I ever got when I was... Because I started in banking back in the 80s, and the people who were my advocates or mentors, they just gave it to me right between the eyes and told me exactly “You shouldn’t do it that way,” or “Your tone is not right,” or “You’re being a little aggressive,” and I thought back then, aggressive meant insertive, so I’m going, “Great, thanks. No, no, you need to integrate into the culture.”

And so, that was some of the best advice I’d ever received. But a lot of that advice so direct, and to the point that I needed people would be too afraid to give that advice to somebody that worked for them in today’s environment. So, advocates who are outside their organization can look at it, know what the situation is, and go, “Oh you know what? You probably could have handled it a little differently.”

Fraser Jack: 03:17 So, you’ve been working in financial services quite a lot. Do you want to give us a quick background of your pathway through financial services?

Judith Beck: 03:24 Absolutely. So, I started in banking in Dallas, and I came here in 1984 long time ago, and I worked for City Corp and then, 25 years ago, most of the listeners are probably worried and bored.

Fraser Jack: 03:38 No they’re good.

Judith Beck: 03:41 I started in an executive search firm called Financial Recruitment Group, and we did executive search nationally to most of the financial institutions. So, what I learned from that experience about why women weren’t getting to the next level, is what brought me into starting, Few. And it wasn’t about discrimination, it was about lack of support systems.

So, the guys have great support systems, they have people in their corner. They start right from graduate level, and they’ve got somebody in their corner saying, “Give it a go.” And the girls, they don’t, and they don’t take them. So, we did a survey a couple of years ago, for the most senior level members, and we asked them how many advocates they’ve had in their career, and less than 1% have ever had anybody.

So, when they need advise, or when they need to ask someone a question, they’ll go home and perhaps [inaudible 00:04:35] their spouse, or they might fit it into a conversation with a bunch of friends, but they didn’t have actual people in their corner. Where on average, the guys have seven to eight people in their corner by the time they’re at state manager level. And so, when I was doing executive search, the reason why that’s important is because if you’re going for that senior role, the competition is less, but it’s tougher.

So, if you’ve got people in your corner who are giving you vital information on how to address that interview, it’s going to tip it over in your favor. And so that’s what we’re trying to do at Few. We’re trying to make sure that the playing field is even, and that everybody has the same level of support and guidance, and that’s brought on by providing them people as advocates with experience. And they meet with their advocate once a quarter. It’s structured.

And it’s about now. It’s about looking at, where have you been the last three months? Where do you want to be the next three months? What can I do to help you? Having that sounding board. With Few Good Men, the feedback from the first group. So, the first group, the first 27 finished their first year about two months ago. And all those women want to continue with their Few Good Men for another 12 months.

And the feedback that they’ve been giving us is things like, “It’s been life changing, he’s really challenged me, he’s given me a different perspective and it’s really nice to be able to ask questions of my advocate without having to try to be impressive.” So, that’s a really good sign.

Fraser Jack: 06:17 So, did we use the word advocate with [inaudible 00:06:19], is it the same relationship?

Judith Beck: 06:21 It’s a little different. The advocate is with a mentor, they’re there a lot of times for a specific time period. So, with the advocate that’s really about having someone who’s got at least probably three levels more experience than you do, and they’re in your corner. They’re the person that you can bounce things off of. You can ask questions, and they’ll give those answers based on their experience. And then you can weigh that up with everything else.

So, it doesn’t replace your coach, your internal programs. It’s an added value to have an industry advocate, and somebody who has experience that they can see as a fresh eye, what perhaps you’re going through and give you guidance on that. So, it’s a little bit more than a mentor. Sure, they mentor them, but it’s another step. So, I say mentor/advocate, because they could do both.

Fraser Jack: 07:17 Now tell me about you. Because you’ve had to go and rattle some cages, to get people involved in this to start with it’s like any movement does. You have to-

Judith Beck: 07:25 Yes.

Fraser Jack: 07:27 ...Be the crazy one dancing on the Hill.

Judith Beck: 07:29 Oh, Yes, yes, yes. I don’t take no very easily.

Fraser Jack: 07:32 Until people join you. So, she had to go knock on doors, and explain it, and get people into it. How did you go through that, and how long did that take you?

Judith Beck: 07:40 Well, you know what? The first, my years of doing executive search was fantastic from the point of view, is that my networks are really strong. And a lot of people that are in senior levels, I’ve interviewed them or placed them at one point of their career. So, I know a lot of people. So, when I decided that this is what we needed for the industry. I approached about 20 people in the industry about this is the idea.

Then, I went to people like Jeff Rodgers at MLC and Adrian Hondros who was head of CBA private bank at the time. And also I went to AMP, but CBA and NAB came on board right away. And then AMP came on board, and then McCory came on board. So, I went to all my contacts and they went, “Yeah, we’re in.” And it just snowballed from there.

So, the support of the industry, because I think those companies as well, and all those companies have a lot of their executive men who are part of Few Good Men, which is great. But I think the thing is they recognize that this is an industry thing. So, if we want equality and diversity, we’ve got to... This is not a one year fix. So, when we take on corporate sponsors, I quite clearly say to them, “You’re not coming in for a year.”

This is not a one year fix. This is something that we need to do year on. And it’s a journey and it’s something that with advocates they need to collect them, and have their own board of directors around them. And it’s not a five month program. So, this is something you need to commit with. The way that we’ve done it, is that we’ve also priced it. We priced it very low, so that the idea is that you’re there for a long time, you’re not going to go, “Oh, this is too expensive, so we can’t do it again.” And everybody contributes.

So, the corporate partners have been amazing. So, they’re very generous with their premises when we have events and functions, and things like that. So, it’s very important that everybody does, and they do, which is just really great.

Fraser Jack: 09:57 Amazing. And how can people get involved? So, if somebody wants... You mentioned there are intake the first 12 months. Are you doing intakes? Or are you doing-

Judith Beck: 10:05 So, right now with Few Good Men, we’re up to 60. So, we have 60 executive men who are out there being advocates, and every time we put out a social media post about, these three men have come on board too Few, then we get people from the industry say, “I want to join. And how can I get involved.” And so, if they’re part of the Few Good Men, they need to be at senior executive level, so that they can then be advocates to the women who are at that head of level going up. Because we have a whole group of women who are being advocates to all the other levels as well.

And then, the women who are at the executive levels, because there’s only 17% women at senior levels, they’re also contributing. So, the program is the same, as far as the process goes for the Few Good Men, and for the advocate C program as well. But the corporate sponsors will put their members through, and then we have people coming to us direct. So, definitely if anybody is interested, they should come see us at the Few booth, which is in the FPA booth.

Fraser Jack: 11:17 Fantastic. And if this is outside the Congress, how can they find out about it?

Judith Beck: 11:22 So, fewau.com is our website, and all the information’s on there, or they can contact me directly, which that information is on the website as well.

Fraser Jack: 11:32 Fantastic. And how can they contact you directly in LinkedIn, is a good spot or?

Judith Beck: 11:36 LinkedIn is a great spot. So, I’m a big advocate of people connecting on LinkedIn. I’m always talking about that. Just message me on LinkedIn, and I’ll get back to you right away for sure.

Fraser Jack: 11:45 Fantastic. And I’ve heard about the program before, I haven’t really spoken to you in depth about it, but it’s really exciting to hear. And do you running events as well?

Judith Beck: 11:54 Yes. We have our next conference, which is April 2nd in Sydney at McCory, and it’s going to be a fantastic event. And the thing about our conferences, it’s very much about how you get from A to B, and the inspiration behind that. And it’s for men and women. And we always have a good mix of both. So, I would recommend anybody interested in the conference that they should have a look at the website as well, or come over and see us at the booth, and we’ll have a chat about that.

Fraser Jack: 12:22 Yeah, it’s a fantastic initiative, and I think it’s certainly going to make a difference, or make a dent in the way that the senior executive levels will be changing over time.

Judith Beck: 12:33 Absolutely. We have hundreds and hundreds of women who can continually tell us that the help that their advocate has given them, is the result of their promotion, or an issue they had, or something that they were a new business with a client, especially with planners as well, building centers of influence, and how they can help. And I think something really important in the last couple of years that has really stood out, is that they’ve had the support of someone during a stressful time. And that’s been really important to have someone who can bounce something off of and say... because as we know, the industry has been stressful for the last couple of years.

Fraser Jack: 13:12 Certainly it has.

Judith Beck: 13:13 And they need that support.

Fraser Jack: 13:15 Fantastic. So, is it just financial services that you’re looking at, or is it other industries?

Judith Beck: 13:19 Across the board in financial, and professional services. But that includes accounting and legal as well.

Fraser Jack: 13:23 Wonderful. Thanks so much for coming and sharing.

Judith Beck: 13:25 Thank you for having me. It was fun.

Fraser Jack: 13:27 I really encourage everyone to check it out and come and chat to you or make contact, if they want to get involved.

Judith Beck: 13:32 Fantastic. Thank you.

Fraser Jack: 13:33 Thank you.

Judith Beck: 13:34 Thanks.

Fraser Jack: 13:35 If you haven’t already, I’d love you to subscribe to the podcast on your podcast platform of choice. And to continue the conversation, head over to our social media channels. We’ll catch you next time.


Disclaimer: This document is a transcription obtained through a third party. There is no claim to accuracy on the content provided in this document, and divergence from the audio file are to be expected. As a transcription, this is not a legal document in itself, and should not be considered binding to advice intelligence, but merely a convenience for reference.